Dr Suu Kyi – who has waited almost 20 years to collect the degree in civil law that was bestowed on her in 1993 – was greeted by large crowds as she returned to her alma mater.
She received the award at Encaenia, an annual ceremony at which honorary degrees are conferred, along with seven leading figures from the fields of science, the arts, intelligence and business.
Andrew Hamilton, the vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford, said academics were “honoured” to welcome back Dr Suu Kyi, who was an undergraduate at St Hugh’s College from 1964 to 1967.
“She is returning to a city and university that was her home for several formative years; we have the honour of welcoming an alumna who is one of the great figures of the 20th and 21st centuries,” he said.
Dr Suu Kyi, who arrived in Oxford on 19 June, her 67th birthday, stayed at St Hugh’s, where a private party was held for friends and family.
After she was conferred with her degree, the chancellor of Oxford, Lord Patten of Barnes, invited her to address the university – something not normally done at the annual event.
She told those at the ceremony that throughout her struggle for human rights in Burma, she felt that she “was doing something of which my old university would have approved”.
“Oxford, I know, expects the best of its own, and today, because it has recognised me as its very own, I am strengthened to go forward to give of my very best in meeting the challenges that lie ahead,” she said.
Dr Suu Kyi, who spent almost 20 years under house arrest or in prison in Burma, was elected to the country’s parliament earlier this year.